The USC Aiken Benefit Bull Riding Championship kicks off the show at 8 p.m. Saturday at James Brown Arena. The indoor competition features some of the nation’s best bulls and bull riders.
“It’s still one of the hottest tickets in town,” USC Aiken baseball coach and event organizer Kenny Thomas said. “It’s still a popular event, one everybody looks forward to.”
The bull riding event kicks off the 33rd year of the Augusta Futurity. The largest cutting horse show east of the Mississippi River features a full schedule of events that runs through Jan. 28.
Futurity marketing director Noell Inman said entries are up this year, though there’s no concrete number of entries yet because futurity officials still are accepting entries through Saturday.
The biggest competition this year is the Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting, a newcomer to the Augusta Futurity. Competitors in the Open and Non-Pro classes will vie for a share of the $50,000 in added money – $25,000 per class.
The Mercuria NCHA World Series of Cutting is making the Augusta Futurity its first stop on its season-long 2012 circuit. The event, which begins Jan. 24 and is open to horses of all ages, is expected to bring high scores from competitors.
On Jan. 25, longtime Augusta Futurity competitor Mel Blount, a Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame defensive back, will hold a clinic at 6 p.m. Blount will hold a cutting demonstration before giving an inspirational speech afterward for area students.
The futurity will hold Augusta Warrior Night, Jan. 27, to honor the military. A group of 3,000 retired and active-duty military personnel will be in attendance, along with the Fort Gordon Signal Corps Band.
This year’s Augusta Futurity also features many popular standards as well. The following Saturday, the annual horse sale returns after a one-year absence. Also on Jan. 28 the Wrangler Family Fun Fest, a free event which features live music and a petting zoo, will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Seventh Street Plaza side of James Brown Arena.